Thursday, April 10, 2008

Obama and the Gays

It appears that gay people are mad at Barack Obama this week, and as a member in (relatively) good standing of the gay community, I feel obligated to weigh in. It seems that this story was a slap in the face to many-
Barack Obama says if elected president he won't require that his appointees to the Joint Chiefs of Staff support allowing gays to serve openly in the military.

The Democratic presidential front-runner favors repealing the "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays, which was instituted during the Clinton administration. He said his priority for the Joint Chiefs will be that they make decisions to strengthen the military and keep the country safe, not their position on the policy.

"I would never make this a litmus test for the Joint Chiefs of Staff," Obama said in an interview with The Advocate, a gay newsmagazine.

A member at LJDemocrats rants that "he intends on throwing the Queer community under the bus and just like Bill Clinton he intends on doing it in such a way that we'll smile and ask for more."

That may be the case, that may not be the case. We just don't know yet. Look, my feelings regarding Obama on this issue are the same as my feelings on most Democratic politicians on this issue. I am sure they are personally committed to the issue of gay rights, but I also know they aren't going to go out of their way to use their political capital on us. Do I like that? No. But hey, there it is.

What's the alternative? Oh, that's right... a party that tried to amend the Constitution to prevent the 'threat' of gay marriage, as part of a (successful) effort to use homophobia as a wedge issue in an otherwise important presidential election. Now that's throwing us under the fucking bus.

For the record, the article continues-
"But I think there's increasing recognition within the Armed Forces that this is a counterproductive strategy," he said. "We're spending large sums of money to kick highly qualified gays or lesbians out of our military, some of whom possess specialties like Arab-language capabilities that we desperately need. That doesn't make us more safe."

See? World of difference there.

But the initial hedging there is not the only reason gays are pissed at ol' Barry this week-
The interview comes after Obama was criticized by gay advocates for not speaking to the gay media. The Philadelphia Gay News last week ran a large blank space on its front page next to an interview with Hillary Rodham Clinton to highlight that he did not talk to the publication.

"The gay press may feel like I'm not giving them enough love, but basically all press feels that way at all times," Obama told The Advocate. He said he's frequently spoken out against homophobia and in support of gay rights.

And on that last point, he's absolutely correct. He has hardly been shy about tackling the issue of gay and lesbian rights. How that positive rhetoric translates into reality depends more on (see last entry) the makeup of Congress than it does him.

Finally, Obamaphile Andrew Sullivan gives his say on the matter, and concludes "The sooner this country's leadership shifts generations, the more equality gay and lesbian people will have." And I think that that's the bottom line for me.


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